R (L) v West London MH NHS Trust [2012] EWHC 3200 (Admin), [2012] MHLO 114

The claimant began proceedings to challenge the decision to transfer him from a medium secure unit to Broadmoor high secure hospital. (1) The claimant no longer wished to challenge the transfer decision, but the claims were of general importance and merited review, and were not merely academic, so the judge proceeded to hear the case and set out his reasons at extraordinary length. (2) The potential adverse consequences of a transfer to high security are: (a) the potential for delaying the ultimate date of discharge from detention; and (b) the potential for more restrictive detention conditions. (3) The nature of the decision making process as to whether a patient should be transferred from medium to high security is such as to engage a common law duty of fairness. (4) Subject to the need to protect persons from the risk of harm or some other substantial reason, that duty of fairness requires: (a) the patient and his advisers to be informed of any intention to refer him to high security; (b) the gist of the reasons for referral and any relevant reports to be provided; (c) the gist to be sufficiently detailed to enable meaningful and focussed representations, and reasons to be given if reports are withheld; (d) requests for additional information to be considered; (e) all such information to be communicated in time for the patient to make representations before the earliest possible of (i) the admissions panel meeting, (ii) the high security hospital accepting, (iii) the medium secure hospital deciding to transfer, or (iv) the decision being implemented; (f) all such information to be communicated immediately upon transfer at the latest; (g) reasons for the various decisions to be communicated, and to be sufficiently detailed to enable the patient to decide whether a worthwhile challenge can be made (see para 557-8). (5) In this case, in various ways, the requirements of the common law duty of fairness were not complied with and a declaration to that effect was made. (6) In relation to the Article 6 claim: (a) the transfer decision is not a 'determination' of his 'civil rights', so Article 6 does not apply; (b) but, if it did apply, and if there were a good arguable Article 8 claim, then the judicial review court would be required to exercise a fact-finding function; (c) it was inappropriate in this case for the judge to decide whether (if Article 6 applies and judicial review is inadequate) an independent panel (at least in a case turning on a disputed issue of fact) should decide on transfer; (d) similarly, it was inappropriate to decide whether (if Article 6 applies, judicial review is inadequate, and no hospital is empowered to contract out its function to a panel) the lack of provision for an independent panel makes the MHA incompatible with Article 6.

Related judgments

R (L) v West London MH NHS Trust [2014] EWCA Civ 47, [2014] MHLO 49


R (L) v West London MH NHS Trust (Defendant), Partnerships in Care (First Interested Party), Secretary of State for Health (Second Interested Party)

Decision: 13/11/12

Hearing: 18-19/4/12

Before: Stadlen J

Dan Squires (instructed by Deighton Pierce Glynn) for the Claimant

Jeremy Hyam (instructed by Capsticks Solicitors) for the Defendant

Sonia Hayes (instructed by Partnerships in Care) for the First Interested Party

Martin Chamberlain (instructed by Stephen Brown for the Solicitor to the Department of Health) for the Second Interested Party

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